The Samovar

Registered letter with St Pet Geometric Mark 14

David Jay - 4/5/2018 at 01:14

The Otdyel of the St Petersburg post did not normally register letters during the period (1881-1904) during which geometric cancels were used, but a few examples exist. I have accumulated 10 of them over the last 20 years, and Baillie and Peel mention others. Given the fact that these offices handled a large amount of mail (at least offices 1-14 did), it is surprising that registered letters exist in small numbers. One would think they would either be fairly common, or non-existent. The geometric cancels that I have seen on registered letters include:
Otd 1: 1884, 1889, 1891, 1899,
Otd 4: 1895 and 1903
Otd 5: 1883 (my earliest example)
Otd 7: 1901
Otd 8: 1900
Otd 14: 21/2/1895 (the latest example), a 12 k local reg'd letter to a local court

The last example from Otdyel 14 is unusual for several reasons:
1) It is the only example of a reg'd letter with a geometric 14 I've seen.
2) it is a very early use of the 14 numeral, much the earliest I've seen. K&R suggest that the office must have opened by 1890, but actual numeral cancels before 1899 (the second earliest date I've seen) are quite scarce
3) The geometric mark looks very fresh, a (nearly) new cancel, confirming that the office had not been open long, or at least had not handled a lot of cancelled mail.
4) the geometric mark is accompanied by a x-date 14 Otdyel CDS in an unusual style (B&P 4B15.14) that has been found to date only from this office. B&P speculate that these rare reg'd marks would be canceled and registered in separate offices (presumable reg'd by the Odtyel where the letter was submitted and then later cancelled by an Otdyelenie or other office).
5) Many of the reg'd letters with geometric marks have a "Iz Yashika" indicating that the letter reached the office because it was (perhaps inappropriately) put in a box for the office. This is not the case here. There is no indication that the letter was removed from the box. It seems to have been normally processed.
6) The letter does not fit any of the three hypotheses regarding handling of reg'd mail advanced by K&R -- it seemingly increases the confusion

Thus these scarce reg'd letters amongst the very large amount of mail handled by these offices remain mysterious.

I've posted the front of the cover. The back has 5 and 7k stamps (HLP) and a Eksped gorod mark of the same date as the 14 Otdyel marks

14OtdelReg_Front.jpg - 215kB

right side up version

David Jay - 4/5/2018 at 01:19

14OtdelReg_Front_small.jpg - 121kB

IvoSteijn - 4/6/2018 at 10:05

Dobin is also a good source for SPb. He states the "sub-offices of the city post" delivered mail and accepted registered mail so it's a very fair question why such mail is so unusual.
K&R state the 14 geometric mark was issued in 1894 (which fits with a very new-looking strike in 1895) but Dobin says 1899...

Alep - 4/8/2018 at 08:41

The geometric postmarks served for cancelling stamps. It is not the case here. And why another ink in comparison with the datestamp?

David Jay - 4/19/2018 at 23:58

Ivo- The large fraction of "Taken from the Box" marks on these registered letters suggests that they did not regularly
register mail, or at least did not cancel the mail so that one would know. If Dobin is correct, this would indicate that they perhaps did not cancel mail, even if they registered. But then -- why the "Taken from the Box" items?

Alexander -- Not sure why the mark that is not cancelling a stamp, but I have other examples (maybe 1-3?)